Sunday, December 8, 2019

REVIEW: 'The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel' - Midge's Words May Create More Problems for Her in 'A Jewish Girl Walks Into the Apollo'

Amazon's The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel - Episode 3.08 "A Jewish Girl Walks Into the Apollo"

Joel readies his club for its grand opening. Midge asks Moishe for a favor. Susie suffers a loss and turns to an unexpected source for help. Midge learns a hard show business lesson.

In 2018, there were 495 scripted shows airing amongst the linear channels and streaming services. The way people are consuming content now is so different than it used to be. It happens according to one's own schedule. As such, there is less necessity to provide ample coverage of each specific episode in any given season from a show. Moreover, it is simply impossible to watch everything. As such, this site is making the move to shorter episodic reviews in order to cover as many shows as possible. With all of that being said, here are my thoughts on the next episode of Amazon's The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel.

"A Jewish Girl Walks Into the Apollo" was written by Amy Sherman-Palladino and directed by Amy Sherman-Palladino

Do Midge and Susie deserve fame and success? Or do they deserve to be left behind on the tarmac? That is the existential question being posed by the conclusion of the season. It's frustrating because the show remains very opaque about the discussion. It doesn't feel like Midge is an active component of her own fate. Lots of things happen to her. She understands the importance and power of her voice. And yet, she still feigns ignorance and shock when she experiences repercussions for what she says on the stage. It does highlight her privilege. She is incompetent when it comes to the abuses of the world. She doesn't understand racism, segregation and homophobia. She doesn't ascribe to those views herself. She sees herself as fighting for progress in society. In fact, her entire family positions themselves in that way. However, they are all overbearing in their own unique ways that comes from a place of elitism and ignorance to the struggle of others. Benjamin is right to be upset with Midge for walking away from their engagement in a letter. Moms Mabley and her manager are right to be annoyed that a lesser known, white comedian has the plum performing spot during this showcase at the Apollo Theater. Midge wanted to celebrate this achievement. But things continually have to be pointed out to her. She doesn't realize how her actions can come across. The audience may be asked to toss all of that aside because she is a great performer. She deserves to be the final performer being the main act arrives. She has been opening for Shy all year. It's a rhythm the team has grown accustomed to. They are simply adding other performers to the stage. It's no different than the way the premiere started with the USO show. Midge is simply forced to acknowledge that there are racial dynamics at play. She is playing to a primarily African American crowd. She panics at the last minute and has to rely on Reggie to calm her down. Susie is dealing with her own family struggles. Again, this finale highlights how irresponsible Midge and Susie can be. Midge is always late. Meanwhile, neither of them are responsible with money. Midge will always spend it on new clothes. The show continues to delight in how many hats she owns. And then, Susie loses it all gambling. That's absolutely devastating. It clearly is for a moment. But it's also used to further signal that Joel and Midge will inevitably be together. That's a statement the show continues to express over and over again. Sure, she shows up to his club's opening night and fills the silence when the power goes out. However, that is her lending a helping hand and trying to be supportive. That's the relationship they have. They have to co-exist. That doesn't have to be seen in a romantic context.

All of this may potentially clash with how smart and capable Midge is when negotiating with Moishe to get her old apartment back. In that moment, she expresses her desire and has all the evidence necessary to prove that she can follow through on her financial promise. It comes from her future earnings though. That is the collateral she places as proof. And then, the finale explodes that pursuit. It's unlikely that all of this will lead to more financial instability for the family. In fact, Rose and Abe are both given promising new careers here. It just shows how the life of a comedian may be one of constant ups and downs. That appears to be Midge's destiny. Her mother can't understand why it's funny to get up onstage and talk about people in her life. Midge doesn't really care about her mother's concern. However, she wanted to spare Benjamin from that without even discussing it with him. Sure, the second season laid out reasons why they may not have worked out in the long run. This doesn't end with a reunion here. But it showcases how there are serious conversations that Midge needs to have that she has delayed for far too long. It's so much easier for her to fall back into the same patterns that she has comfortably lived in for years. She is perfectly allowed to return to the apartment she once called home with Joel. It isn't a problem whatsoever in the end. But again, she has to face consequences for her actions. She wasn't trying to deliberately hurt Shy with her stand-up set making fun of him. She holds no animosity towards him at all. And yet, he feels personally betrayed on a deep level. He was more vulnerable with her than anyone else in the world. He trusted her with his secrets. And then, he perceives her going out and outing him to a cheering crowd. It may be blown out of proportion. But that is the perennial fear when closeted. The fear of the unknown can be deafening and debilitating. Reggie didn't know how close the performers had gotten. He is more than willing to deliver the bad news. Midge doesn't believe she did anything wrong. The audience may agree with her. However, it certainly makes her a passive character in all of this. As such, that proves that this season was incredibly hit or miss when it came to delivering on huge moments. This twist may just ensure that things remain complicated for her career. She plays the Apollo Theater here. That is a huge accomplishment. She may not have something of equal success for awhile largely because she is still just finding her path in the industry that can be absolutely savage to newcomers trying to take some fame and success for themselves. That shouldn't be a bad impulse. Midge should be given the tools to succeed. However, it may be too much of a burden for too little payoff. That too can be a fascinating journey. The show just needs to have a little more conviction with its actions instead of teasing everyone around to make sure that all of the main characters remain important for the longevity of the series.